FAA Lifts Blanket Ban On Galaxy Note 7 From Domestic Flights As Return Rate Hits 96 Percent

The ongoing Galaxy Note 7 saga appears to be finally winding down. In its most recent earnings forecast, Samsung has already recovered financially from the explosive fiasco and is looking ahead to record profits. Likewise, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is ending the pre-boarding practice that required airlines to warn customers that Galaxy Note 7 devices are strictly prohibited.

So, why the change of heart from the FAA given the obvious safety risks of allowing the smartphones aboard aircraft filled with hundreds of people? The FAA and Samsung cite an incredibly high return rate of 96 percent for phones that were sold to consumers.

“Together with our wireless carriers, we have taken aggressive action to limit the remaining phones’ ability to work as mobile devices, further enhancing participation in the recall,” stated Samsung in a press release. “We thank the Department of Transportation, airlines, airports, our partners and Note7 owners for their patience and support during this time.”

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung has been working overtime (as witnessed by the high return rates) to get customers to trade-in their defective Galaxy Note 7 devices. The company offered customers full refunds or the option to switch to a somewhat comparable Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge (in addition to cash compensation). Carriers also offered their own programs, with some allowing customers to exchange their Galaxy Note 7 for any smartphone in inventory.

For those that have been lax about returning their Galaxy Note 7, Samsung has worked with carriers to effectively brick the devices with an over-the-air (OTA) update. Verizon Wireless initially balked at such a death sentence for its customers’ smartphones. “We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season,” said Verizon Wireless in early December. “We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.”

However, those concerns didn’t last very long, as Verizon Wireless quickly capitulated and joined other wireless carriers in unleashing the “Death ROM” update.